In the last month it seems that as soon as the sun goes down our yard is taken over by cane toads. The little bit of recent rain has brought these toads out of hibernation and they are ready to breed during the wet season.
These rather unattractive amphibians are a common cause of poisoning to dogs and less commonly cats. When toads feel threatened they ooze a milky poison through the glands in the skin. If a dog or cat is to lick, bite or eat a cane toad the poison can make them quite sick and can have a hallucinogenic effect on them. Just recently I was reading an article in the Courier Mail that said that some dogs were possibly becoming addicted to the “high” or the effect that the cane toad poison was having on them and were then repeatedly seeking out cane toads.
Symptoms of cane toad poisoning vary dependant on the amount of poison ingested by the animal. Signs of cane toad poisoning include;
– Excessive salivation, drooling and/or frothing from the mouth
– Bright red & slimy gums
– Rubbing at the mouth
– Muscle spasms
– Increased or rapid heart rate
So what should you do if you notice these symptoms or suspect that your pet has cane toad poisoning? Firstly you should always contact your veterinarian to discuss the symptoms and seek advice. If the animal is just showing mild symptoms or you see them with a cane toad there are a few first aid measures you can undertake to prevent the poisoning from becoming severe.
Some first aid steps to follow are;
– You need to thoroughly rinse the animals mouth out to remove the poison. To do this hold your pets mouth tilted down and first wipe the mouth and tongue out with some paper towel. Use a hose or tap on a slow trickle and thoroughly wash out the mouth for at least 10 minutes. Let the water run over the teeth, gums and tongue but keep the animal’s mouth tilted downwards to avoid water running into the lungs.
– Then use a wet cloth and gently wipe out the mouth, teeth, gums and roof of the mouth. Rinse the cloth between each wipe and continue the process for 5-10 minutes.
If your pet settles and does not seem to be showing any further signs of poisoning confine them, preferably inside, or away from toads and watch them closely for any developing symptoms. These first aid measures are often enough to prevent the poisoning from becoming severe if administered quickly. If your pet continues to deteriorate or is showing signs of severe poisoning you need to get them to a veterinarian urgently as the situation can quickly become life threatening.
Severe cases of cane toad poisoning will require veterinarian monitoring and often treatment with intravenous fluids, anti-seizure medication and oxygen therapy. Blood tests may also be required to determine if there has been any organ damage as well as continual heart monitoring.
If talking to your pets and explaining the dangers of playing with cane toads just isn’t sinking in the best way to prevent cane toad poisoning is to keep them locked inside at night and away from the toads. Also try teaching your dog to stay away from toads. This can be done by taking them out at night on a lead and teaching them to avoid and ignore the toads by using reward based training methods.
If you think you have a dog that is addicted to the cane toad “high” I suggest reading the Courier Mail article that can be found here.
If you ever have any concerns or questions about your pets health and/or cane toad poisoning please speak to your veterinarian.
Until next time,